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Project Description and Goals

The Preserving Cambodian Classical Music project is an initiative of Middlesex Community College (MCC) and Lowell Public Schools (LPS) to engage K-12 youth and adults in continuing the Cambodian music tradition. Since so many musicians were tragically killed during the reign of the Khmer Rouge, there is an urgent need to preserve the musical tradition in order to provide a sense of cultural connection, belonging and pride to people of Cambodian heritage. 

This project provides K-12 music teachers with the training required to introduce students to classical Cambodian music. It also provides training to three Cambodian-American folk musicians to preserve further this important aspect of the Cambodian culture for future generations and to encourage the creation of new compositions based on traditional Cambodian classical music.  From January to May 2015, LPS faculty will complete 48 hours of training.  Six additional workshops will be offered from September 2015 to April 2016 to provide the teachers with continued assistance as they implement curriculum units. 

Professional development for teachers will be offered through the LPS Teacher Academy and participants will earn three graduate credits from Fitchburg State University.  Classes will be co-taught by Master musician Song Heng and Rita McLaughlin, a music teacher at the Murkland School, who studied in Cambodia through Primary Source of Watertown, MA.  Teachers will be required to develop curriculum to integrate Cambodian classical music into their classes.

Music teachers at the Murkland and Stoklosa Schools will plan a special Cambodian New Year celebration featuring Cambodian classical music performed by some of the students, as well as Heng and Sovann Khon, one of the folk musicians to complete training. Some of the professional development will be videotaped so that participants will have them as reference and newly hired music teachers will be able to access instruction with the assistance of a mentor-teacher. 

The pilot project for beginning to integrate more classical Cambodian music study into the curriculum will be a spiral curriculum starting in the elementary schools with simple melodies and rhythms performed on pitched and non-pitched percussion instruments and recorders as well as through singing.  In the middle school, more complex melodies and rhythmic patterns will be explored through playing the pin peat ensemble instruments and through singing. At Lowell High School, students will study more advanced melodic and rhythmic patterns as an instructional component of the World of Drums class. From this class, it is our hope that a students pin peat ensemble will be formed. 

Additional goals of this project include supporting live performances of Cambodian classical music through training three local Cambodian folk musicians, who will then be prepared to perform at community cultural celebrations, provide individual and group instruction, and prepare musicians to accompany the Angkor Dance Troupe; and to introduce Cambodian classical music to middle and high school students by conducting an MCC Outreach Workshop, and to the Greater Lowell community via an MCC World of Music Concert in the spring on 2016.  Dates will be added to this blog as events are scheduled.




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Posted: Thursday, July 30, 2015 8:53 PM by MCLAUGHLINR-GE
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